76ers

Joel Embiid shines brightest among young stars with career night in L.A.

Joel Embiid shines brightest among young stars with career night in L.A.

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LOS ANGELES — On a historic night, Joel Embiid summed up 46 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and seven blocks as “just playing basketball, being aggressive.” 

If that’s what just playing ball looks like to Embiid, the rest of the NBA better take notice. 

Embiid set marks left and right with each basket he made in the Sixers’ 115-109 victory over the Lakers on Wednesday night at the STAPLES Center (see observations)

Embiid became the first player in league history with a minimum of that stat line. He was also the first to post more than 40 points, seven assists and seven blocks since Sixers legend and Hall of Famer Julius Erving did so in 1982. 

In team history, Embiid became the first to score 40 points since Allen Iverson dropped 45 in 2006. He’s also the first player on the Sixers with back-to-back games of 30 points and 15 rebounds since Charles Barkley in 1988. 

“Yeah, I am impressed,” Embiid said of his numbers. “I heard it has never been done in the league. Wish I could have had a quadruple-double with blocks. Shoutout Hassan Whiteside. But I just went out there and played basketball and played the right way.”

Embiid scored 28 points in the second half alone (see highlights). He shot 14 for 20 from the field, 2 for 3 from long range and honed his skill of drawing fouls to make 16 of 19 at the line. He committed only two turnovers, below his season average of 4.8, and was happy with playing team ball.

“He’s a beast,” Ben Simmons said. “He’s been doing really well. He’s getting better every game. We’re getting better playing together.” 

This monster performance is the latest milestone in Embiid’s 42-game NBA career. He credited studying post players, particularly Hakeem Olajuwon, for improving his offense. 

“I was proud to represent his move tonight, up-and-under shimmy shake,” Embiid said. 

It was just less than a week ago that Embiid struggled with the ball in losses to the Kings (7 for 20 from the field, five turnovers) and the Warriors (4 for 11, seven turnovers). He has wanted to be more aggressive since Saturday’s game in Oakland, and he responded with 78 points and 31 rebounds in 70 minutes combined in the Sixers’ consecutive wins over the Clippers and Lakers.

“I love L.A.,” Embiid said. “I love the STAPLES Center. I wanted to come out here and put on a show, so I did.” 

Brett Brown has been saying Embiid would improve with time and repetition once he enhanced his fitness level. Embiid hasn’t played in a back-to-back set yet and didn’t pass 30 minutes for his first six games of the season. Brown expected to see a difference in Embiid after Thanksgiving. The holiday came early.

“It’s always that slippery slope of playing with pace and movement, and then realizing you’ve got Joel Embiid,” Brown said. “Tonight, we realized we had Joel Embiid, and the stat line that he produced was just dominant.” 

Hard to imagine there was anything missing from Embiid’s stellar night, right?

"Too bad there wasn’t any trash talk out there," he said, "but I still had fun."

NBA admits mistake that leaves Sixers scratching their heads

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NBA admits mistake that leaves Sixers scratching their heads

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers were right.

The Sixers argued they should have set up at halfcourt, not fullcourt, for a decisive final possession of double overtime in Friday’s game against the Thunder. After a closer look following their triple-overtime loss, the NBA ruled the Sixers were proved correct. 

“After review, it was determined that the 76ers called timeout with 00:01.2 remaining on the game clock, which was prior to Saric's (PHI) dribble. Therefore, they should have been given the opportunity to advance the ball into their own frontcourt for the inbound,” the NBA Officiating’s Last Two Minute Report noted.

The confusion occurred at the end of the second overtime. Dario Saric got a defensive rebound and the Sixers called a timeout before he dribbled the ball. Because of this, the Sixers should have been allowed to set up a final play in the halfcourt, which is exactly what they had practiced and called.

But the referees made a last-second change as the Sixers were setting up. The Sixers were told they had to inbound from fullcourt, which would have been the case if Saric had dribbled before the timeout. The Last Two Minute Report indicated he, in fact, did not. 

“Respect that they are that transparent, but complete disappointment that it can happen,” Brett Brown said Sunday. “You really scratch your head. It’s significant.”

Every play, every basket can make a difference for a team fighting to make the playoffs. The Sixers were confident they could have won the game with the halfcourt play. Instead, they dropped back down to .500 and currently 10 in the Eastern Conference.

“Those things you need to avoid to give yourself every chance to win,” Brown said. “We can point to many other things that were self-inflicted wounds that we’ve got to do better. But when it’s that exposed and that prominent of an environment with 1.2 seconds left, it’s disappointing. But like I say, they’re transparent. I respect the fact they admitted it and we move on.”

Joel Embiid out Monday against Bulls; 2 other Sixers sidelined

Joel Embiid out Monday against Bulls; 2 other Sixers sidelined

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid does not play both games of a back-to-back, but whether he plays in either of the Sixers' next two matchups will have to be determined.

Embiid is not traveling with the Sixers to Chicago for Monday’s game against the suddenly-streaking Bulls, who have won five straight. The big man usually plays at home in these scenarios, and considering he played 49 minutes in Friday’s triple-overtime loss, the decision was expected.

Embiid’s availability for Tuesday at home against the Kings, though, has not been finalized at this point. This is not surprising either being two days ahead of the game. Embiid, who has been dealing with back tightness, did not participate in practice Sunday. The Sixers will evaluate, monitor, and go through treatment with Embiid before making their call.

“Unsure at this stage,” Brett Brown said Sunday. “I do know he’s categorically out tomorrow and we’re going to learn more about him being available when we come back [for] Sacramento, I’d expect in the next 24 hours.”

The Sixers do know they will be without another two players for some time.

Trevor Booker will miss at least the next two games after suffering spraining his left ankle Friday. The newly acquired reserve will be reevaluated in approximately five-to-seven days.

Even though Booker was traded to the Sixers less than two weeks ago, he already made an impact on the second unit. Brown has seen enough over the last four games to know what the team will be missing.

“His toughness,” Brown said. “He’s got a motor. He plays with such a spirit. He’s a man. He’s a pro. He’s been in the league for a while. He gets it. It’s everything that you miss. It’s really everything this team needs.”

Furkan Korkmaz likely will be sidelined even longer. The rookie suffered a Lisfranc injury on his left foot while playing for the Delaware 87ers on Dec. 15 and is out indefinitely. The Sixers recalled Korkmaz from the G League and he is going through evaluation and testing. There is no timetable set for Korkmaz at this point.  

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons described the injury as, “Lisfranc (midfoot) injuries result if bones in the midfoot are broken or ligaments that support the midfoot are torn. The severity of the injury can vary from simple to complex, involving many joints and bones in the midfoot.”

Korkmaz has been going back and forth between the Sixers and their G League affiliate in Delaware to get playing opportunities as part of his development in his first NBA season.